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A brief history of blue chip trainers


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A brief history of trainers as collectable Objet d'art

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A brief history of blue chip trainers

  1. 1. A brief history of blue chip trainers CAMERON KIPPEN
  2. 2. Sea-side Shoes When Saturday became a work- free day, urban families clambered to visit the seaside particularly in the summertime. Working boots were discarded as day trippers wanted shoes for walking through sand and paddling in the sea. At first, cheap cotton canvas topped shoes with soles made from leather, jute or rope were used, but these flimsy sea side shoes wore out quickly, usually within a day.
  3. 3. Rubber vulcanisation After simultaneous discovery of rubber vulcanisation by Howard and Goodyear in the US; and Thomas Handcock in the UK a major court case ensued and the former granted the patent in the US; and Hancock became the patent holder in the UK. Henceforth there was intense rivalry between the two countries to produce rubber based products.
  4. 4. Plimsolls By 1876, seaside promenaders sported the latest canvas topped rubber soled shoes called plimsolls (New Liverpool Rubber Company). A rubber band was wrapped around the seam joining the upper to the sole making the new shoes more robust. The similarity to the new load lines painted on boats meant the shoes were called plimsolls. White plimsolls wore well, kept the feet cool in the summer and dried quickly after a paddle in the sea. The canvas could be painted with chalk white which give the outward impression from a distance these were expensive white croquet shoes.
  5. 5. Tennis Shoes Plimsoll was quickly adapted to popular sports another working class pastime encouraged by the ruling class at this time. Keeping workers and their families amused in their leisure time was important especially at a politically volatile time in history. In the UK, Lawn Tennis players (circa 1860) wore low cut plimsolls with patented sole patterns to improve grip and prevent destroying the lawns. In the US, high top canvas plimsolls (used to protect the ankles), were introduced to the new team games of baseball (1846) and basketball (1891).
  6. 6. The evolutionary process As each recreational sport adopted the plimsoll it was adapted to the specific needs of the game. The addition of a simple rubber strip at the end of the shoe stopped the big toe nail appearing through the canvas. Gradually the anatomy of the modern sport shoe (or trainer) began to emerge. Even the British Army, issued plimsolls to their serving men and a pair of plimsolls (gym shoes)
  7. 7. The Rubber Industry The rubber industry was booming and became very competitive. Popularity of cycling meant many companies started producing bicycle tyres and by the time the popularity of cycling had waned, development of the car industry brought with it a need for car tyres made form rubber. The United States Rubber Company saw the market potential and bought out their smaller rivals, many of which were already exporting sport shoes globally.
  8. 8. Hi-top Sneakers Hi-top sneakers were customed by Irving Watkinson who designed a pair for Dr. James Naismith the man who invented basketball. An iconic feature of those early sneakers was the addition of a rubber ball logo at the lateral ankle of the shoe. In the same year, the Colchester Rubber Company which produced them was taken over and it took almost 20 years before Spalding introduced their basketball shoes in 1907, then others followed. The Converse Rubber Corporation introduced The All-Star shoe in 1917) which subsequently became the evergreen iconic basketball shoe. In reality this was a reinvention of the original Colchester sneaker.
  9. 9. The Rise of Physical Culture After the Great War, the market for sneakers grew exponentially when it was realised the fitness levels of the working class was low. Sports and athletics increasingly became a way to demonstrate Christian Muscularity or moral fibre and patriotism. Physical Culture swept the West and athletic shoes increasingly were used for leisure and outdoor activities and when physical education lessons were made compulsory in schools, children had to wear plimsolls.
  10. 10. Athletic shoes Between the wars, the new Olympic Competition became a fashion catwalk, and focal point for international trade. Shoe manufactures quickly modified their footwear to the specific needs of popular sports. After his return from World War I, Adolf "Adi" Dassler started making sports shoes in his mother’s kitchen, then went on to establish one of the leading athletic shoe manufacturers, Adidas.
  11. 11. Chuck Taylor All-Stars In America, the market for sneakers grew steadily as young boys lined up to buy white hi top sneakers endorsed by sporting heroes like Chuck Taylor for $1.00 (or $20 today). The famous basketball player wore Converse All-Stars and they became so popular they were called, Chuck Taylor All- Stars, or ‘Chucks.’ Chuck Taylor's name was added to the circle patch. Ventilation eyelets were added in 1932 and the classic black All-Star sold until the 40s. By WWII, Chuck Taylor sneakers became the "official" sneaker of the U.S. armed forces.
  12. 12. Tennis and Badminton Shoes International tennis and badminton had become major drawcards and customised tennis shoes began to appear circa 1936. A French brand, Spring Court, marketed the first canvas tennis shoe featuring signature eight ventilation channels on a vulcanised natural rubber sole. Jack Purcell (Canadian badminton champion) adapted tennis shoes to his sport which was played on hard wooden floors.
  13. 13. Dunlop Volley International double tennis champion, Adrian Quist, convinced Dunlop Australia to make a plain white tennis shoe with patterned herringbone sole in 1939. The added grip on the lawn surface made the Volley OC (Orthopaedically Correct) an instant success. Production continued until the 1970s with almost no change except the addition of the iconic green and gold stripe to the heel in the 1970s. Dunlop Volleys became standard issue by the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force.
  14. 14. Teenage rebellion Like the T shirt, service issue plimsolls (often in various colours) became popular souvenirs after the War and were highly prized by the youth of the time. Tennis shoes were ideal for the dance floor and dancing to quick tempo Swing and Jive. The appeal of American sneakers was confirmed when James Dean was photographed wearing Jack Purcell’s and Elvis Presley appeared in Hi top Converse Chucks and Keds became a by-word for teenage rebellion.
  15. 15. Trainers By the 50s man-made fibres became incorporated and sneakers merged into trainers. Now more durable, flexible and hard wearing, cellular foams were added to increased fit and comfort. When designers began incorporating a two-colour finish (colourways), signature sole patterns and brand decals and dashes a completely new fashion was created. These were first seen at the Melbourne Olympics worn by the athletes from behind the Iron Curtain. Competitors were often filmed ambling about minutes before competition wearing their trainers then later as if by magic, won medals in their heats.
  16. 16. Shoe Collectors (Sneaker Freakers) Celebrity endorsements and sneakers sponsorships college and professional sports ensured loyal fans would wear and collect new models. At fist sneaker designs affiliated to a particular sporting celebrity ended with their retiral from sport. The same model was then passed onto a new endorser rather than be discontinued, or a new one created. This created collector interests. The aftermath of the Space Race was the creation of an industry dedicated to new synthetic polymers. What better use to make of these out of this world materials than sport shoes.
  17. 17. What drives a collector? The ultimate in secular consumerism maybe driven in part by the overall desire to acquire modern objet d’art at affordable prices. Collectors appreciate one-off's, limited editions and exclusives. While previous generations of males might collect cars from their youth, Generation X preferred shoes. This is not entirely male centric and females too, collect sneakers.
  18. 18. Limited Editions and Hype marketing The shelf life of a trendy trainer is short (3 months) and companies like Nike and adidas are forever introducing new lines. To add incentive, companies offer "quick hit" or hype shoes which is a clever marketing ploy involving the sale of a small number of limited edition shoes as a special offer in selected outlets for a limited period of time only. With minimum advertising these events are hurriedly communicated through networks, websites and SMSs. Sneakerheads range from casual fans of sneaker fashion to those who buy and sell shoes like blue chip investments. Fanatics endure the elements and camp overnight for their next purchase of limited edition.
  19. 19. Fresh and Deadstock Collectors pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars depending on their cachet. Some wear them, and have multiple pairs (in case one gets scuffed); whereas others keep them ‘fresh’ in their boxes, or ‘deadstock’ them in a bank vault, or on display and always unworn. Collectors have enormous closets full of trainers designed by sneakerhead artists who, themselves become celebrities. Sneaker Freakers have many dedicated web sites, movies, books, songs and even radio shows dedicated to sneaker culture.Dedicated shoe collectors determine what will sell and companies are obliged to follow.
  20. 20. Michael Jordan shoes (Js) are blue chip Currently the American market for deadstock sneakers is estimated at $1 billion, with the thriving resell community net millions of dollars a year by selling rare kicks for profit. By far Michael Jordan shoes (Js) are considered to be the most expensive at auction. Recently a pair of his shoes was sold for $190,373. The previous record for a pair of game-used sneakers was again, Jordan’s worn during the "Flu Game," and sold for $104,765 in 2013.
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